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The Prankster

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"Your PRANKSTER'S GAMBIT plunges to an all time low. You cannot hope to defeat Egbert in a prank-off. He is simply the best there is."
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A guy (or girl) who loves practical jokes more than just a friend, and will not be selective about who they choose for a target - in fact, a success record with as many people on it as possible seems to be one of their life goals. They will be the constant annoyance of their friends, albeit humored and tolerated, akin to the Lovable Rogue. Using their tricks against the villain will usually be their Moment of Awesome that makes you forgive them for the rest.

April Fools' Day will be their favourite day of the year when they are even more out of control than usual (and sometimes it will be their actual birthday).

Occasionally someone will decide to teach the prankster a lesson and give him a taste of his own medicine, which will often expose him as a hypocrite who is unable to laugh at himself (although there are genuine jokesters who enjoy a good joke even when it is on them), but note that more than one practical joker on the block for any longer duration will quickly lead to an Escalating War.

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Usually there will be at least one episode where the prankster's behavior ends up backfiring on him - maybe they go too far and actually harm someone or they are thought to be joking even when they are not. Having the prankster lose his trademark behavior is a clear sign that your story has just become Darker and Edgier.

Prince of Pranksters is basically the uber version of this character. Compare The Jester. Sometimes also a Pungeon Master. See also the Trickster Archetype.


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Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Kaitou Joker. Spade was a prankster in childhood. Now, in his late adolescence, his pranks have become an essential part of his style of theft.
  • As with their mythological counterparts, all Kitsune (especially Kyouka) and Tanuki in Kitsune No Yomeiri are irrepressible pranksters. The two races even have competitions to see who can prank the most people in a single day.
  • The Narutaki twins and Misora in Mahou Sensei Negima!.
  • Kenta from Maicchingu Machiko Sensei. He is also a Dirty Kid and most of his pranks are toward his Hot Teacher Machiko and some of his female classmates.
  • Majokko Meg-chan. Rabi that love play tricks on his big sisters Meg.
  • Majokko Tickle. Tickle is a mischievous fairy who was imprisoned inside a book for playing pranks on people.
  • Kanna from Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid has this as an Informed Attribute. She was banished to Earth for pulling too many pranks, but we never see her do so at any point in the story. Justified later on when it's revealed that she was doing it to get attention from her parents. Since Kobayashi pays attention to her, she has no reason to do so anymore.
  • Naruto:
    • The main character in his younger days; his hobbies were pulling pranks due to him craving attention. He grows out them as the manga goes on.
    • According to the databooks, his mother enjoyed pulling pranks, though in her case it probably wasn't for attention.
    • Bolt is a prankster as well. He's Naruto's son but pulls pranks to get his father's attention.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animation 
  • Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians. Being mostly invisible helps. So do the ice powers.
  • Woody in the "outtakes" over the credits of Toy Story 2, all on Buzz—hiding in one of the spaceship boxes and making faces in the background, drawing on Buzz's helmet and making the film crew break up when Buzz puts it back up (twice), and finally writing "THIS SPACE FOR RENT" on his wings. By the final one, Buzz marches off camera shouting "DARN IT, WOODY!"

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe: Loki is an Attention Whore, so pranks are his way of dealing with Thor hogging all the spotlight—if Loki can't get others to notice him in a positive manner, then the negative kind will do. Plus, it amuses him to hoodwink his chosen victims.
    • As an eight-year-old, he had shape-shifted into a snake in order to trick Thor into picking him up (Thor loves snakes), and Loki then stabbed his brother (yes, this counts as a prank on Asgard). This was apparently one of his finest ruses from boyhood because as an adult, Loki smiles fondly at Thor's recollection of the event.
    • According to the play The Tragedy of Loki of Asgard, Loki once transformed Thor into a frog, and Loki-as-Odin mutters under his breath, "'Twas indeed hilarious!"
    • In a deleted scene from Thor, Loki is displeased with a male servant who chuckles when Thor belittles spell casters ("Some do battle while others just do tricks"), so he metamorphoses the wine into three snakes, which causes the servant to yelp in fear. Loki thinks this is damn funny.

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter's Fred and George Weasley.
    • As well as James Potter and Sirius Black, who were directly compared to the Weasley twins. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew too, to an extent.
  • George and Harold from Captain Underpants.
  • Legs Mortimer, in P. G. Wodehouse's "A Farewell to Legs", and the members of the Drones Club in other stories. (Mortimer Mouse in "Mickey's Rival" may have been inspired by this story.)
    • Lest you think only the Drones have this quality, mention should also be made of Roberta "Bobbie" Wickham, who, when it comes to pranking, is More Deadly Than the Male.
  • Pumuckl, the kobold protagonist of a German children's series.
  • Andrusch in Krabat.
  • In Aaron Allston's run on the X-Wing Series, he wrote several prank-happy pilots. Grinder in Wraith Squadron perhaps the most so, and certainly he was the only one to pull pranks that could be harmful. Fandom seems to believe that Wes Janson is absolutely this trope, but while Wes is amazingly irreverent and snarky, his actual "pranks" are rare, simple, and tame.
  • Galaxy of Fear's Zak Arranda shows flashes of this now and then. A Pseudo Crisis in The Brain Spiders is his fault.
  • Felicity Merriman and Elizabeth Cole from the American Girls Collection, most especially in Very Funny, Elizabeth, although some criticised the book for making Cole Out of Character.
    • Speaking of out of character, Merriman is mostly portrayed as such in the Hitler Rants parodies on Youtube.
  • Julian from The Boy Next Door, whose pranks get steadily more serious and dangerous.
  • Veikko from Valhalla is constantly playing practical jokes on everyone in the ravine. His sense of humor is his most defining, endearing and dangerous characteristic.
  • The British children's book series Agent Z is about a group of schoolboys who enjoy carrying out pranks on people. Unusually, their pranks almost always get out of control and cause potentially dangerous situations, but the situation is usually resolved humorously and peacefully.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • The video for Original Prankster features the exploits of a life-long prankster.
  • Acts pranking each other on the last night of a tour together is considered a tradition in the music business among touring bands.
    • In their book, The Dirt, Mötley Crüe talked about how, on their last night opening for Ozzy Osbourne, Ozzy's road crew dumped flour on them during their set. They retaliated by dressing up as Ozzy's roadies (his road crew would wear hooded robes and walk around freely onstage) but naked underneath and flash Ozzy and his band during their set.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Owen Hart was considered the Prince of Pranksters in the WWF. His pranks included:
    • Hiding a bunch of sardines in the turnbuckle before a match with his brother, Bret, then stuffing the sardines in Bret's mouth during the match and putting him in a Camel Clutch (sitting on his back, pulling him up by the jaw) so he couldn't spit them out.
    • Inviting Davey Boy Smith to sit up with him and Bret in first class, then pretend not to know him when flight attendants tried to send him back to his seat in coach.
    • Telling The Rock to give him a shoulderblock during a match, then going down v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y when he did the move.
  • Curt Hennig was also known for his pranks.
    • According to Shawn Michaels, Hennig loved to use padlocks and would lock people's bags to overhead pipes, or put locks on people's glasses.
    • In his book, Goldberg told a story about Hennig spraying his seat on a plane to make it look he had urinated on it.

    Myths & Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS:
    • This is one of the hats of kobolds in GURPS Fantasy Folk. Their other one is that they are all complete idiots, so their pranks aren't terribly sophisticated.
    • A Pyramid "Supporting Cast" article by Phil Masters introduces a prankster AI named Avril to Transhuman Space. The description says she doesn't really have much of a sense of humour, she just knows how to annoy people, adding that the same can be said of many human pranksters.
    • GURPS Discworld Also has the sample gnoll character "Wet Weather" Wigliss, who is described as a practical joker, with a note that this really means "low-level sadist". (This was also by Phil Masters, who does not appear to be a fan of pranks.)

    Video Games 
  • Ewan from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
  • Yuffie Kisaragi of Final Fantasy VII fame.
  • Luciana and Emilia in Blaze Union. While we do get a list of pranks they've pulled off, we never see them at it directly, so it can be called an Informed Attribute.
  • Star Control II has an entire race of these with the Umgah. Since the Umgah are a bit insane and pretty immoral anyway, their pranks involve things like sparking interplanetary wars or slamming asteroids into other species' homeworlds.
  • Rune Factory 4 has both Doug and Leon, though surprisingly, they neither engage in a prank war nor team up to torment the more serious members of the cast.
  • Lilica Felchenerow from Arcana Heart. So much that one of them actually led to the rise of Yoriko's partner Mike.
  • Tewi Inaba from Touhou, whose pranks range from mean-spirited (digging pit traps in the forest) to outright sociopathic depending on the doujin.
  • Sans from Undertale has an Establishing Character Moment where he introduces himself to you with a whoopee cushion gag. Later on, he'll actually abuse his powers over time and space just to pull a series of pranks at your expense; his brother Papyrus implies that he does that sort of thing a lot.
  • The Prankster ability in Pokémon boosts the Action Initiative of any move that doesn't deal direct damage, including buffs, debuffs, and status conditions. Recent games gave Dark-type Pokémon immunity to Prankster moves because they're sneaky enough to see them coming.
  • Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition - she sees pranking high-ranking people (especially if they're jerks to the less powerful) as an act of political rebellion and karmic justice both.
  • Kogure from Inazuma Eleven. He especially likes to put chilli sauce in people's food and give them a frog when he shakes hands with them.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: Lewis's little sister Cayenne put hot sauce in Arthur's milkshake and then hid under the table to laugh at his reaction. Her appearance and devil horned headband imply she's always doing things like this.

    Web Comics 
  • Bo-Woo and Ra-Woo from Divine Bells are a mischievous masked pair who play pranks on their king.
  • In Homestuck, John is described as the best prankster there is. But he regularly gets trounced by his Nanna, and both revered her adoptive father, Colonel Sassacre, as a master prankster. Post-Scratch, Jane and her famous Poppop share the same qualities. Since they're John & Nanna after switching places in history. John is not one to be overlooked, however, as he drops a bucket on Rose's head as a friendly thank-you gesture for her kind gift to him on his birthday.
  • The Insecticons of the Insecticomics are this, out of lack of anything better to do. Kickback once spent four hours waiting to pull a prank on the first person that walked by, stating that he "has a lot of free time for some reason."

    Web Original 
  • In Real Life, Hermann Otto Fegelein was an S.S. officer during World War II and the personal adjutant of Heinrich Himmler, who tried to defect a few days before Germany surrendered, but was caught and executed for treason. However, once he was depicted in Downfall, Fegelein started to gain a new reputation in the parodies, where he is a ruthless prankster who performs all kinds of hilariously cruel antics against Hitler. Even better is that he somehow keeps avoiding capture due to the incompetence of Hitler's staff, and whenever he is found he is literally able to cheat death and come back.
    • There's also Heinrich Himmler, who is among many "Grand Masters" of antics, and he is Fegelein's mentor.
    • A number of other pranksters exist in the parodies. Aside from Fegelein and Himmler, Traudl is occasionally shown performing antics. The Stalin Parodies see Joseph Stalin's general Mikhail Tukhachevksy performing all kinds of bizarre antics. While the U-Boat Parodies only have one official antic master, they still turn the entire cast of Das Boot into Loveable Rogues. Felicity Merriman was also depicted as a prankster, similar to what she and Elizabeth did in one of the original American Girl stories, albeit in a more extreme and crude level.
  • We Are Our Avatars: If something seems weird enough for Krissy, or if he comes up with something unique, he’ll use his illusions to mess with people.
  • Thomas Sanders has two long-running Vine series, "Disney Pranks with Friends" and "Pokemon Pranks", which are all about adapting various Disney and Pixar movies into pranks and pranks based on Pokémon attacks, respectively. Some of his "Narrating People's Lives" Vines are pranks as well.
    Disney Pranks with Friends! *sprays a friend with Silly String while singing "I've Got No Strings"*
    Zubat, go! Use Supersonic! *friend plays a really loud guitar chord and scares someone awake*
    Story time! *walks up to a woman looking at a dress and her daughter* She stared at the gown and thought 'Yes, this is something my husband would wear.' *woman laughs and nods while daughter turns away embarrassed*

    Western Animation 
  • Reggie Mantle was treated this way on The Archie Show. He would attempt to prank Archie, and inevitably some authority figure would spring the trap instead. "Mrs. Grundy!"
  • Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice — it's why everyone in the Neitherworld hates him.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
    • Horace from Mickey Mouse fame.
    • Mickey Mouse use to be a big prankster in his early days, especially towards Minnie. And while Minnie isn't as much of a prankster as her boyfriend, she sometimes likes to join in on the pranking herself.
  • DC Super Hero Girls gives us Harley Quinn. Just see "Quinn-tessential Harley" or her "Hero of the Month" honor for examples.
  • Luan's defining trait in The Loud House, which gets to a point in which even the parents are victims of her pranks.
  • Rig (AKA Rig Digger) from Matchbox Hero City, cracks out jokes almost every time.
  • Brattus from Mr. Bogus will periodically pull pranks on his older cousin Bogus.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
  • T.J. Detweiler from Recess. King Bob was one as well, at least before he became the playground's king.
  • This is Muscle Man's greatest pleasure in life on Regular Show. He limits himself to not physically harming anyone though, as shown with "Prankless".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart Simpson, of course. His career highlights include inciting a media frenzy by pretending to be trapped in a well, answering his teacher's personal ad, replacing the hymns in the church with "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida," turning the school weather balloon into Principal Skinner's "rumpy doppelganger," trapping the teachers in their cars by repainting the lines in the parking lot, and getting an Australian boy to accept a $900 collect call by impersonating a drainage commissioner. And then there's all those Prank Calls to Moe...
    • "How Lisa Got Her Marge Back" reveals that Bart's baby sister Maggie has a knack for pranking as well. The two of them bond over this, leading to a brief partnership that is only stopped because Homer doesn't want Bart to be a bad influence on Maggie.
    • The episode "Pranks and Greens" has Andy Hamilton, a former student of the Springfield Elementary School. He is said to be the best prankster ever. His first and most famous prank was when Andy was a student at Springfield Elementary School and Seymour Skinner loved to swim in the school's early swimming pool. Andy filled the pool with worms and locked Skinner in the pool for a whole weekend, including Monday, a teacher's holiday.
  • Yogi's Gang has an antagonist by this very moniker. Hilarious P. Prankster, to be exact.
  • Jack O' Lantern from Billy and Mandy’s Jacked-Up Halloween was a prankster in medieval times who was granted eternal life by Grim, but at the cost of his head. He now wears a pumpkin head and goes out every Halloween with his bag of tricks.
  • Imp from She-Ra: Princess of Power was a nasty version of this, with a fairly nasty sense of humor to boot.

    Real Life 
  • Far too many spooks and spies to list, due to the necessity to keep a quick wit and a nature for deceit, have reputations as pranksters. One notable intelligence officer was Reginald V. Jones, who was the driving force in the radar countermeasures battle during the Blitz, responsible for jamming, spoofing, and otherwise playing merry hell with German communications, navigational, and radar gear. He also had a reputation as an incorrigible prankster before the war.
  • The founders of motorcycle company Harley-Davidson were noted for being practical jokers, as mentioned by Jean Davidson in her book about the Harley and Davidson families. Arthur, for one, gained a reputation for pulling off jokes not only on friends and family, but to a crowd when Scottish comedian and music hall singer Harry Lauder was supposed to come to Milwaukee to perform, impersonating the performer at an event all while people thought they were watching the real Lauder. Another instance was when Arthur and his brothers decided to outright troll fellow co-founder and friend Bill Harley at a duck hunt. Harley was sleeping in his boat at the time, and was snoring loudly, attracting the attention of ducks. They went behind Bill's boat and fired a few rounds at the birds, much to Bill's bewilderment.
  • Charles Lightoller of the White Star Line (yes, that White Star Line) was also remembered for his playful sense of humour, as boredom or the need for amusement would drive him into pulling off an antic or two. His pranks ranged from the trivial, such as surfing around on the slippery linoleum floors of the Olympic, much to the chagrin of his superior, to bordering on insane and outrageous, like shoving a signal flare into a fellow crew member's cabin, and most notably the incident at Fort Denison, Sydney.
  • Steve Wozniak, one of Apple's co-founders, is notorious for being one of these.
  • Nazi diplomat Walther Hewel was well-known for playing practical jokes. His most frequent victim was Joachim von Ribbentrop. This makes him a real-life "antic master", though Hitler found his antics amusing rather than annoying.

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